tek's rating: ½

When In Rome (PG-13)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Wikipedia

So, I basically wanted to see this because it stars Kristen Bell. She plays a museum curator named Beth, who travels to Rome to be the maid of honor in the wedding of her sister, Joan (who's marrying an Italian guy named Umberto, who she'd just met two weeks earlier). The best man in the wedding is a guy named Nick (played by Josh Duhamel, which is a familiar name but I don't remember him from anything), and he and Beth seem to hit it off. I should say she was kind of jaded because of her breakup with her last boyfriend, but she decides to give love a chance again... until she sees another woman kiss Nick. So, she has some champagne, and um... "rescues" a few coins from the fountain of love. And when she picks each of them up, in that moment the person who had thrown each coin into the fountain suddenly has a vision of Beth, and falls in love with her. One of them is an Italian painter named Antonio (played by Will Arnett, who I know from a few things, but mostly Arrested Development). One of them is an incredibly narcissistic model named Gale (played by Dax Shepard)....

Quick story here, it's usually quite hard for me to choose a DVD to watch. I'm addicted to buying them, so I have a lot I've never seen. Tonight, as usual, it took a long time to choose one. At one point, I saw a DVD of a miniseries, The Fire Next Time, which I vaguely recall seeing on TV, years ago. One of the stars was Bonnie Bedelia, who currently has a role in Parenthood. Which... would be on tonight, except it isn't, which is why I'm watching a DVD. So I thought, wouldn't it be apropos to watch that? But I decided against it. Eventually I chose this movie, and when Gale first appeared, I was like, "magic!" -see, I'm naming these people out of order. Actually the first person to appear was Danny DeVito (need I list credits?), who's playing a sausage magnate named Al. After him was Antonio. After him was some random guy I didn't recognize, and she threw back the coin. After him was an illusionist named Lance, played by Jon Heder (best known probably for Napoleon Dynamite), who said, "Magic." After him came Gale. Finally, she picks up a poker chip, though we don't exactly get to see who'd thrown it... it soon becomes clear that it was probably Nick. But the point of this paragraph is for me to explain that I thought it was like destiny that in spite of not choosing to watch a DVD that had one of the stars of Parenthood on the night I'd normally be watching Parenthood, I unwittingly chose a movie with another star of that show, Dax Shepard. Which is why when he appeared, I quoted the guy who appeared right before him. The fact that I chose this movie is like magic! Neat, right?

Anyways... Beth goes back home to New York. She gets a call from Nick, who's supposed to be playing poker with his friends. Who are funny (mainly the one named Puck, who is, luckily, the only one that'll continue to appear throughout the movie). But she's not interested in Nick because of this other woman. Later, she's chased by Antonio. Later, Gale shows up. Then Lance. After that, when she's at work, she gets a call from Joan and Umberto, from whom she learns about a legend that if someone takes a coin from the fountain, the person who threw that coin will fall in love with the person who took it. And um, her assistant, Stacey (played by Kate Micucci, who I liked in Bart Got a Room and probably saw elsewhere before), was listening in on the call. She believes in magic, but Beth doesn't (though of course circumstances soon force her to believe). Anyway, there's a problem trying to get a piece of art for a show that Beth is arranging. And then her boss, Celeste (played by Anjelica Huston), who already had little confidence in Beth, shows up. With Al, who has become a new patron of the museum (in order to chase Beth, of course). But Nick shows up, and promises to provide a different piece of art (a photograph which is... of him, for a reason I won't get into). Thus saving the show. I guess. Also he explains that the girl who kissed him was "Umberto's crazy cousin." And he wasn't into it.

Anyway... so now all these guys are in love with Beth. And they're all just redonkulous, except Nick. I mean seriously, it would pretty much be impossible for anyone not to look good by comparison to Antonio, Lance, Gale, and Al. (Though I will say that ultimately, Al proves to have a better understanding of love than any of the others.) In any event, Beth falls in love with Nick, though personally I think she fell far too quickly. I mean, she had thought it was ridiculous for Joan to fall in love after knowing someone two weeks, but she herself knew Nick less than that, even. But whatever, I can set aside my own beliefs about true love for the purposes of a story. The important thing is, she didn't want to be with Nick if she knew his love for her was because of some kind of magic spell. Which is certainly commendable. But... well, there is something about that which I predicted. I won't spoil it, but... whatever. It doesn't matter if it's predictable, it's still sweet. And in spite of being a totally ridiculous movie, there were plenty of moments that I found amusing. And I liked all the actors. Mostly Kristen, but everyone was pretty good. (Oh yeah, thanks for reminding me, Wikipedia... Beth's ex-boyfriend, seen briefly at the start of the movie, was played by Lee Pace, who I liked in Pushing Daisies. And there were various other stars I haven't even mentioned. Like Don Johnson as Beth and Joan's dad. For example.) Anyway, I'm not going to spoil how it all ends. But um, I liked the dancing at the end of the movie, over the start of the closing credits.

The movie didn't do very well critically or financially, really, and while I feel like maybe it should have done just a bit better, I can't blame either critics or audiences. There's so much I found likable about the movie, but... nothing I really found lovable. And there was plenty that I found... I don't want to say bad, but... not good. 'Redonkulous' is an apt word. Some of that redonkulousness was fun, and some wasn't. I dunno. It's just a hard movie to peg. Definitely worth watching once, but probably not twice.


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